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tv   US Senate  CSPAN  April 7, 2016 10:00am-12:01pm EDT

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mr. nelson: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: mr. president, we have the f.a.a. bill on the floor. i'd like to discuss some of the amendments that are proposed and hopefully a couple that we will be voting on this morning. there are a couple of amendments -- one offered by senator thune on behalf of himself and this senator, the ranking member of the commerce committee, another offered by senator heinrich -- both amendments of which apply, deal with the issue of security but in different arenas. let me explain. the thune-nelson amendment applies to the question of perimeter security of allowing employees to get into an
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airport, not the sterile area controlled by t.s.a. although, as i will explain, it can definitely affect the sterile area as well. on the other hand, the heinrich amendment addresses security in the areas where passengers bunch up outside of t.s.a. security, such as in a queue-up line going through t.s.a. security or passengers bunched up at the ticket counters checking in their luggage. either way, as we saw from the experience of the brussels airport explosion, those are very tempting targets for a terrorist and, therefore, the
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proposal in the heinrich amendment, which i would commend to the senate, is to increase the level of security particularly with what are called viper teams which, in essence, is not only at airports but at seaports, at transportation hubs -- because, remember, brussels was a bombing in one of the train stations as well -- that you increase the surveillance, the security there, including dogs. as a matter of fact, our kavme - our k-9 friends are some of the best because their noses are tuned to be able to sniff out the explosives that you cannot detect with metal detecters or with the a.i.t. machine that we
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go through where we hold up our hands to see if we have anything on us. it can detect if you've got a package, but if you've got an explosive that is somewhere in one of your body cavities, it's going to be very, very difficult. dogs, because of their god-given sense of smell, can detect that, and a properly trained dog is just amazing to watch. now, interestingly, concurrently, there is research going on in the national institute of standards of technology -- there is research going on for an artificial dog nose, a mechanical or a piece of software and hardware that would actually do the same job.
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but that hasn't been perfected yet. that's going to be really interesting to see what they come up with. this senator will report to the senate later on that. but for the time-being, the heinrich amendment, which i hope we will vote on this morning, is concerned with that security that we've seen as a result of the brussels bombing. and we certainly want to enhance security in our airports. thank goodness we have the intelligence apparatus that we do in this country to be able to smoke out the terrorists before he ever does his dirty deed. it's more difficult for them to do it here in america than it is in europe because of the alienation of those communities that then harbor the terror, and
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we see the result in brussels, as well as paris. and that's a broad characterization of it but basically that's the thrust. the thune-nelso-- the thune-nels going at the perimeter security. think egypt and the russian airliner. it was an airport employee who smuggled the bomb onto the plane, not as a passenger but as an airport employee. think atlanta airport two years ago, in a gun-running scheme over three months, over 100 guns were transported from atlanta to new york. the police in new york couldn't figure out how all these guns
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are getting on the street in new york. and they kept checking the trains. they kept checking the interstates. they couldn't figure it out. here's how they did it: an employee of the atlanta airport, because atlanta was not checking their employees, would smuggle the guns in. then that employee had access in the terminal to get up into the sterile area -- the t.s.a. sterile area; would go into the men's room; meet the passenger, who had already come through security and was clean; give the guns to him to put in his empty napsack, his backpack; and this
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employee over the course -- 17 times, over three months, over 100 guns. thank goodness it was a criminal enter prierks no-- thankgoodnesr prierks not a terrorist -- thank goodness it was a criminal enterprise, not a terrorist. the miami airport figured this out. what they did instead of having hundreds of entry points into the airport for airport employees -- in a very large airport like atlanta, like miami -- they boiled it down to a handful. and there the employees went through similar security that passengers do to check to see if they had any weapons. they had a special identification card that they would have to stick into an
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electronic machine and put in their code, which was another way of checking to make sure that the employee was who they said they were. and my hasn't solved the problem, after having a problem with drugs 10 years ago. interestingly, in the interim, the orlando international airport, likewise, about four years ago had had a similar drug problem. they did the same thing, boiled down hundreds of entrypoints for airport employees to a handful. i've gone to those two cheptz at those two airports. we have 300 airports in the united states. and there were only two that were doing this kind of perimeter checking. and atlanta then became the
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posterboy of what can happen in a gun-running scheme. i am happy to report to the senate that in fact the atlanta airport has now done exactly what miami and orlando had done. but we've got 297 other airports that need to do the same thing. so the thune-nelson amendment is exactly getting at that kind of perimeter security situation. and i highly commend both thune-nelson as well as heinrich -- and there are a whole bunch of cosponsors, bipartisan, on each of these. i highly recommend both of these to the senate. i hope we will vote on those today and hopefully this morning. now, there are going to be, of course, a series of many other
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amendments, some very well-intentioned that have some technical glitch that we're going to have our very expert staff right now start to try to work out some of these technical glitches. and we can get moving with this f.a.a. bill. i would mention one other that this senator will be offering, and that is a cybersecurity bill. and, basically, did you see the "60 minutes" segment where people with a laptop could take over an automobile by going through the electronics of the automobile? they can make it speed up, they can make it stop, they can make it turn, completely take over the operation of an automobile.
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can you imagine somebody being able to do that with an airliner with 250 people on board? and, therefore, whether we want to face it or not, we better face it, because we are at an era that what we need to do is to make sure technically that the systems in an airliner are separate, that there's an air gap, that whatever those systems are -- it might be wi-fi for the airplane, it might be music, it may be whatever it is, that there is an air gap so that someone cannot go into that system and suddenly get into the aircraft controls. and that is superimportant.
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one other thing i would mention is what we know as unmanned ariel vehicles, drones. they've become quite popular. but, obviously, one of the things that is already in the bill that senator thune and i insisted as we approached this f.a.a. bill, we have to come face to face with reality that drones are now impairing the safety of an ascending or a descending aircraft. and we have seen, the two of us, an operation where you can now take over the operation of a drone. education can do so much, and people have got to understand that you basically got to not fly a drone within five miles of
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an airport. just recently at miami international, inbound american airlines, there's a drone about 1,000 feet off on the left side. remember captain sully sullenberger, when a flock of geese suddenly gets sucked into the engines and all power is lost? fortunately, he had the hudson river that he could belly it in, after he had taken off from laguardia. you put a drone with plastic and metal, let that get sucked into the engine, and you have a catastrophic failure. you don't want to put your passengers in that kind of operation. and, therefore, education is one
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thing, but there's always going to be the young person that doesn't know about this. and so there's got to be -- and we don't know the answer. we know we can take over the operation of the drone and send it over here and have it set down, have it land. the technology is there, how to apply that technology so that we avoid this aircraft collision in an increasing use of drones which are so helpful for so many commercial purposes, not even to speak of the pure pleasure of flying a drone around as we are seeing has become exceptionally popular. well, we address that in the bill by doing the appropriate
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direction to the f.a.a. to start coming up with the solutions of how we're going to protect aircraft in an around airports. on down the line, there are going to be so many different things with regard to drones far beyond the scope of the f.a.a. bill. the question of privacy. what about a drone suddenly coming down and coming at eye level outside your bedroom window snooping? those are all kinds of questions of privacy. what about the fact that you can now put a gun on a drone? we know in a war zone we have the capability of doing that with very sophisticated weapons such as hellfire missiles. but now some people are experimenting with putting a gun on a drone.
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and all the ramifications of what that means for society. indeed, we've got these to deal with in the future. but for the immediate, the f.a.a. bill on the floor, we've got this problem of avoiding drones colliding into aircraft, and that is in the bill and it is addressed. so, mr. president, we've got a lot of interesting things to talk about. let's get the senate on and hopefully we can get agreement so we can at least vote on two of these amendments this morning. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the
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clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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quorum call:
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quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new mexico. a senator: mr. president, i would call up my amendment number 34 -- the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. a senator: i would ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. heinrich: mr. president, i would call up my amendment number 3482, as modified, and ask that it be reported by number. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from new mexico, mr. heinrich, proposes an amendment numbered 3482, as modified. mr. heinrich: mr. president, this amendment would strengthen u.s. airport security, especially in nonsecure or soft target areas of airports, places like check-in and the baggage claim areas. it would also update federal
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security programs to provide active shooter training for law enforcement and increase the presence of federalling agents with bomb-sniffing -- federal agents with bomb-sniffing canines at these nonsecure areas. i want to thank the amendment's cosponsors, senator manchin, senator chiewrm, nelson -- schumer, nelson, klobuchar, baldwin, durbin, bennet and blumenthal. and i would urge all of my colleagues to join me in supporting the passage of this amendment. and i would yield the floor. note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. mr. casey: mr. president, i would ask consent to vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. casey: thank you, mr. president. i would also ask consent -- i guess we're on the bill -- i
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would ask consent to speak as i- i'll speak on the bill and ask consent to do that. the presiding officer: without objection. the senator is recognized. mr. casey: thanks very much. i'm pleased to be joined by my colleague from pennsylvania, senator toomey, to talk about an issue we began to discuss here on the floor yesterday but we've been working many, many months on this issue. it's a rather simple issue but it is a matter that has some real urgency connected to it because we're -- we're talking about a secondary barrier on airplanes, meaning a barrier other than the -- what we know now to be a reinforced cockpit door to prevent terrorists from getting into the cockpit. but what we need to do in addition to that, after congress mandated the installation of these reinforced cockpit doors, is to add a secondary barrier.
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and this is something that arises because we not only know from the attack on 9/11 but thereafter we know that, number one, this is still an intention that terrorists have to -- to take over an airplane. we know that since 9/11, 51 -- and i'll correct the record from yesterday, i think i said 15. i had transposed the number. but it's 51 hijacking attempts around the world since 9/11. so this is not a problem that's going away. we have to deal with it. here is what we're talking about. this is a -- this is a barrier just so people understand the -- the nature of this barrier. this is a lightweight wire mesh
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gate that would prevent a terrorist from getting into the cockpit or even getting to the door of the cockpit which, as we said, is already reinforced. what it does fundamentally is block access to the flight deck. so that's what we're talking about. that's what our amendment does. we know the substantial number of groups that support this. i'll just read the list for the record. and this is -- this actually is support for the underlying bill that senator toomey and i and others have been working on for a while. the underlying bill itself was senate bill 911 and also the amendment, amendment number 3458. endorsed by the following groups association, the allied pilots association, the association of flight attendants, federal law enforcement officers
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association, the united states airline pilots association, the coalition of airline pilots association, the port authority of new york and new jersey and the families of 9/11. there have been numerous studies done. i'm holding a -- you can't see it from a distance, but this is a study conducted in -- by the cato institute, among others. terrorism risk and cost-benefit analysis of aviation security. i would ask consent to put this study into the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. casey: so, mr. president, we have not only substantial support from virtually every group you could point towards, we have some expertise on how to protect pilots in the cockpit, how to protect passengers on an
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airplane and of course how to do that by preventing terrorists from getting through near the cockpit because of a good secondary barrier. this effort started literally from -- from folks that we now know in pennsylvania. it started with, among other people, with -- i should say from among other people with the ceracini family. ellen ceracini, the wife of captain victor ceracini who piloted united flight 175 that terrorists hijacked and they flew it into the world trade center on 9/11. so in -- in memory of captain ceracini and inspired by the great work of his wife, ellen, we offer this amendment, and
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again i'm very pleased to be working on this with my colleague, senator toomey. i will yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. mr. toomey: i want to thank senator casey for his leadership on this. this is a very simple matter. it's straightforward, common sense. we know that there is a very real vulnerability in our commercial aircraft, we know this. there is no mystery here. and we have a very simple, affordable, reasonable solution that will provide the security we need. after 2000 -- after september 11, 2001, congress very rightly mandated that the cockpit door be reinforced so that it's virtually impossible to destroy that door, to knock down that door, to defeat the purpose of that door when it is closed and latched. the problem is when it is
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opened, which it must be opened periodically during many flights, a very strong door is useless. so we know what happens now on airlines because we've all witnessed it, right? when a pilot needs to come out or go in or there is access to the cockpit, when that door is going to be open, a flight attendant rolls a little cart, a serving cart in front of the door. well, i suppose that's better than nothing, but it's not much better than nothing. that can be rolled away. and we're not the only ones that have observed this. the f.a.a. advisory has observed this risk, the 9/11 commission pointed out that the terrorists were very focused on the opportunity created by the opening of the cockpit door, and as senator casey pointed out, there have been multiple attempts to breach that door. several have been successful. so we have an amendment that solves this problem in a very affordable, reasonable, sensible
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way. it is a lightweight, collapsible barrier made of wire mesh, and a flight attendant can simply draw it across the opening, lock it and then at that point the cockpit door can be opened and there is no way that someone would be able to rush through that wire mesh in time to get to the cockpit during that moment when the door is open. so that's what our amendment does. passed the transportation committee in the house unanimously. as senator casey pointed out, it has very broad support from many of the stakeholders that care about the security of our commercial aviation, and it is our hope and understanding that we will be very soon propounding a unanimous consent agreement which will allow this amendment to be pending, that this will be one of the amendments that will be on the docket for a subsequent vote. so i hope we'll get to that
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momentarily. i hope we'll get that locked in, and then i would urge my colleagues to vote yes on our amendment and enhance commercial aviation safety. i yield the floor. mr. toomey: i notice the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: 
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. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from nebraska. a senator: i would ask that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. a senator: mr. president, very seven unanimous consent requests for the committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority and minority leaders. i ask unanimous consent that these requests be agreed to and that these requests be printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. a senator: mr. president, i rise today to discuss an important matter before the united states senate. fish the reauthorization of our nation's federal aviation administration. the f.a.a. is tasked with a
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critical mission to manage the safety and the security of our nation's air space. our nation's air space is an incredible resource that fuels our economy. according to the bureau of transportation statistics in 2015, a record 896 million passengers traversed america's skies. our aviation system contributes $1.5 trillion to our nation's economy, and it supports 11.8 million jobs for hard-working americans. the senate's f.a.a. reauthorization bill will make our aviation system stronger for families, children, veterans and the traveling public. it will also benefit nebraska's rural airports and local aviation stakeholders.
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notably this carefully negotiated bill will strengthen america's aviation system without raising fees or taxes on airline passengers. a robust bipartisan legislation includes several major priorities that i championed. mrs. fischer: i'm proud of bipartisan language i included in the bill. our provision would compel the f.a.a. to work with the airline industry to comprehensively assess and update guidelines for emergency medical kits on commercial aircraft. these kits which haven't been statutorial updated since 1998 provide life-saving resources for passengers. it is well past time for the f.a.a. to evaluate medications and equipment included in these kits. doing so will ensure all
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passengers, particularly families with young infants facing unknown allergic reactions, have access to the medical supplies they might need in an emergency situation. in addition, i worked with senator mccaskill to include an amendment that would make it easier for tveling mothers to care for their young infants. our amendment unanimously passed the commerce committee. we worked closely with airport stakeholders, including omaha's epley air field to establish standards for both medium and large hub airports to develop private rooms for nursing mothers in future capital development plans. valving is -- traveling as a new mom can be challenging and it can be stressful at times, but i believe this important change will provide increased flexibility and also peace of mind for mothers traveling
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through airports across our country. i also join senator he herono to include an amend that workers have access to service connected disability leave. the f.a.a. was one of the few agencies not included in the recently passed wounded wore yar federal leave act. that bill required federal agencies to ensure disabled vets have access to service connected disability leave. our disabled veterans bravely served our country and they deserve access to benefits that they have earned. i'm grateful for the achievements this bill will advance for the flying public. at the same time the bill is also a victory for nebraska's rural communities and airports. the small airport regulation relief act which is included in
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the f.a.a. bill would create a temporary exemption for small airports so that they can continue to receive airport improvement program funds, those a.i.p. funds despite downturns in air service. the survival of smaller airports, such as scotts bluffs western nebraska regional airport depends on these crucial funds to provide service to local passengers and businesses. several of nebraska's small and community airports, such as alliance, chadron, grand island, mccook, north platt and scotts bluff, they'll also benefit from a continuation of the essential air service or e.a.s. program. the e.a.s. program incentivizes air carriers to provide service to underserved in rural areas
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and it's critical to ensuring air service continues for nebraska's rural communities. meanwhile, the central nebraska regional airport in grand island is growing, and it hosts a privately operated federal contract tower. i encourage the inclusion of provisions to compel the f.a.a. to complete a pending cost analysis for federal contract airports. this analysis would reflect the cost-share arrangement more accurately between our local airports and the f.a.a. for those contract towers. through this legislation we can help to reduce the burden on local airports like grand isla island, nebraska. one of the major challenges facing aviation manufacturers has been the f.a.a.'s inconsistent and often unclear
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regulatory process. i collaborated with lincoln nebraska duncan aviation, the largest family maintenance retear and overhaul organization in the world to address this challenge. in fact, chairman thune toured the facilities at aviation with me in lincoln last fall. our bill would provide clarity to aviation businesses, like duncan aviation by compelling the f.a.a. to establish a centralized safety guidance database. moreover, the bill would require the f.a.a. to establish a regulatory consistency communications board. the board would set standards to ensure the consistent application of regulations and guidance at regional offices throughout our country.
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agricultural aviators in nebraska will also benefit from safety enhancements in this bill. far too many of our agricultural pilots have died in recent years after collisions with unmarked utility towers. this legislation would ensure that towers are marked to create safer skies for our agriculture pilots. passing our f.a.a. bill will be a major accomplishment for the united states senate. i appreciate and commend the hard work of chairman thune, ranking member nelson, and their committee staffers on this meaningful f.a.a. reauthorization bill. in the coming days, i look forward to working together to help past this -- pass this critical legislation that will benefit the flying public, our national aviation system, and
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nebraska's rural airports and aviation stakeholders. mr. prepares, i yield the floor. i would suggest the absence -- mr. president, i yield the floor. i would suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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mr. thune: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. thune: mr. president, i
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further ask unanimous consent that my amendment number 3512 be modified with the changes at the desk and that at 12:05 p.m. today, the senate vote on the following amendments in the order listed: thune, 3512, as modified; heinrich, 3482, as modified; and further that at 1:45 today, the senate vote on the schumer amendment number 3483 and that no second-degree amendments be in order to any of the amendments prior to the vote and that there be two minutes equally divided prior to each vote. finally, i ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending amendments in order to call up the following amendments: casey-toomey number 3458, as modified; heller number 3495; bennett number 3524. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. nelson: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: mr. president, obviously i support the agreement and this is a first good step in moving this f.a.a. bill along.
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the presiding officer: the clerk will report the amendments en bloc. the clerk: the senator from south dakota proposes amendments en bloc numbered 3458, as modified; 3495; 3524 to amendment numbered 3464. mr. thune: mr. president, if i might just speak to amendment 3512, which we'll be voting on momentarily. i know senator nelson has already spoken to this issue but it is a series of security bills that we have worked very hard to try and bring to the floor. we're trying to move them separately but they fit i think nicely into the debate that we're having on the f.a.a. reauthorization. senator nelson, senators ayotte, cantwell and i have been leading oversight of airport security problems relating to airport and airline workers abusing their secure area access badges.
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this oversight led our committee to approve bipartisan legislation, senate bill 2361, the airport security enhancement and oversight act, to tighten the vetting of airport workers with ties to terrorists and serious criminal behavior that should disqualify them from accessing sensitive airport areas. just in the past few weeks, a number of badged aviation industry workers have been caught in the act of helping criminal organizations. on march 18, a flight attendant abandoned a suitcase with 68 pounds of cocaine after she was confronted by transportation security officers in california. in florida on march 26, an airline gate agent was arrested with a backpack containing $282,400 in cash that he intended to hand off to an associate. as we work to address the threat of an aviation insider helping terrorists, criminals who break laws for financial gain and those with histories of violence are a really good place to start.
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it's high time, mr. president, that we start cracking down on these types of offenses for people who are working in sensitive areas at our airports. u.s. terrorism experts believe that isis is recruiting criminals to join its ranks in europe and some of the perpetrators in the deadly attacks in brussels were previously known to authorities as criminals. ensuring that airport workers with security credentials are trustworthy is especially important considering that experts believe an isis affiliate may have planted a bomb on a russian metrojet flight leaving egypt with the help of an airport employee. and, of course, that killed all 224 people onboard. the recent attacks by isis in the unsecured area of the brussels airport also underscore the vulnerability of airport areas outside of t.s.a. security screening checkpoints. the house of representatives, mr. president, and the commerce committee also approved legislation, h.r. 2843, the
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t.s.a. precheck expansion act, in december of 2015 to expand the prechecked program by developing private-sector partnerships and capabilities to vet and enroll more individuals. these private-sector partners would be required to use an assessment equivalent to a fingerprint-based criminal history record check conducted by -- or i should say conducted through the f.b.i. these changes would increase the number of passengers who are vetted before they get to the airport. as a result, more passengers would receive expedited airport screening and get through security checkpoints more quickly, ensuring that they don't pose the kind of easy target that the isis suicide bombers exploited at the brussels airport. in addition to the bills approved by our committee on march 23, the house homeland security committee approved h.r. 4698, the safe gates act of 2016, which would strengthen security at international airports with direct flights to the united states.
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specifically, the bill would require t.s.a. to conduct a comprehensive risk assessment of all last point of departure airports, a security coordination enhancement plan and a work force assessment. it would also authorize the t.s.a. to donate security screening equipment to foreign last point of departure airports and to evaluate foreign countries' air cargo security program to prevent any shipment of in fair yus materials sri -- nefarious materials via air cargo. mr. president, i believe these bills would help make air travel more secure and they should advance in the full senate. an-- senate in this amendment to the f.a.a. bill. and so i would encourage my colleagues to support that amendment, the nelson-thune endment, thune-nelson amendment, whatever you want to call it, and then also follow on with the heinrich amendment, which will come shortly after that, mr. president, and which also makes i think a number of important security improvements with regard, for example, to --
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well, let me -- i've got another amendment up here that i'm looking at right now. but let me just say that the proposals that are made in the heinrich amendment also strengthen airport security. there's been a discussion about whether or not the there ought to be more viper teams. there are i think around 30 or so at this point and the amendment wouldly allow that -- would allow that to go up to 60. we had the opportunity yesterday to question the t.s.a. administrator, admiral neffinger in front of the commerce committee, about whether or not additional viper teams would be useful and he said they could put to use anything that they were given in terms of additional units that might be deployed to places around the country where they think there is a need. and so that is a principal component of the heinrich amendment. also an amendment, as i said, that gets at some of these security issues. mr. president, i don't think we can understate how important security is in light of everything that's going on in the world today. we have people who want to harm
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americans and it is our job to make sure that we are giving those authorities who are there to prevent those types of attacks against americans all the tools that they need in order to do their jobs effectively. and so i encourage our colleagues here in the senate to, when we have an opportunity to vote here momentarily on both these amendments, security amendments, support those amendments. they improve and strengthen security at our airports around this country and i think fit nicely within the context of the f.a.a. reauthorization bill, the debate that we're currently having on the floor of the united states senate. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. nelson: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senior senator from florida. mr. nelson: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to call up the schumer amendment number 3483
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and ask that the schumer and bennet amendments be nelson for schumer and bennet. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from florida, mr. nelson, for mr. schumer, proposes an amendment numbered 3483 to amendment numbered 3464. at the end of subtitle a of subtitle 3, add the following -- mr. nls: -- mr. nelson: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: mr. president, i ask that the reading be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. nelson: mr. president, in just five minutes, we'll have our first series of votes on amendments on this bill. this is a good start to the f.a.a. bill. it is impro


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